Students became geospatial scientists during the recent 4-H Maps & Apps 2013 National Science Experiment.On Oct. 10, millions of students nationwide participated in the sixth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day.Patriots STEM Elementary School, Coltrane-Webb STEM Elementary School and all nineteen Kids Plus after-school sites in the Cabarrus County Schools joined J.N. Fries STEM School in participating in the mapping portion of the event.The experiment taught the students how geography and geographic information systems help people make smart decisions that improve lives, preserve natural resources and make a positive impact in the world. One group was plotting sea creatures in a section of ocean, using the geographic information systems technique called layering. The students drew shapes to scale on transparent sheets that were stacked on top of each other to show spatial relationships. Thirteen-year-old Allison Roach said: “If 10 feet equals one inch, how small do I make a zooplankton, which is 2 millimeters?” Justin McKinnis, 14, said, “It would just be a dot,” as he measured out the whale he was drawing on his layer. “We need a bigger scale,” said Allison.Each team member worked on their separate layer in Megan McNutt’s eighth-grade class at J.N. Fries in Concord, which has a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program.James Larkin’s sixth-grade STEM students sprawled out all over the lecture hall in teams of four. They plotted trash deposits on a map during the “Let’s Talk Trash” exercise. After analyzing the patterns of the deposits, each team proposed cost-effective solutions. Each member was given a type of trash, represented by a different color to plot on their layer: green for aluminum cans, blue for paper products, red for plastic bottles and black for nonrecyclables. After plotting where the trash had been deposited, the goal was to plan placement of receptacles to maximize collection.“I need to make my dots bigger,” said 11-year-old Daniel Teague said as he looked at his teammates’ layers. When he was finished and they started to add the layers on top of the map, he said: “The baseball stadium has the most trash. I think we need more receptacles there.”With three of the layers in place, Piper Borras, 11, pointed toward the racetrack and said, “This part has the most variety, so we will need the bigger ones (receptacles) here.” But she quickly changed her opinion as the last layer was added. “Oh, now there is more variety there,” she said, pointing to the baseball field.As they looked at the plotting, the students decided where they wanted to place the receptacles to collect each type of trash. The next step introduced a budget to follow: $300 for all the receptacles. Individual types of receptacles, such as one for aluminum cans only, were $30 each. Bigger receptacles, which would collect all four types of trash, were $100 each. That led the students to erase many of the receptacles they had placed earlier, as they learned that budgets determine what can be put in place.Jennifer Larkin’s sixth-grade STEM class had formed larger groups, lying and kneeling on the floor in the main entrance/multipurpose room of the school as they became community planners. Discussing what amenities they wanted for the park they were designing, Sean Ramos said, “Bathrooms! Everybody needs a bathroom.”One layer was the buildings, including the bathrooms, while another was a water feature or a forest. The students made adjustments as they stacked the layers together. Sometimes buildings or trails would have to be “moved,” or erased and redrawn, as in real life, to fit with the goal of designing a park that would work best for the community.
Monday, Oct. 14, 2013
Cabarrus STEM students become geospatial scientists for a day
Marty Price is a freelance photographer and writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email him at email@example.com.
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